What to Consider When Planning Your Child’s Education

What to Consider When Planning Your Child’s EducationThis content is an extract from the Friends Provident International’s Education Funding brochure. If you are an expat living in the UAE and planning for your child’s education, you may find this information useful. We will be sharing the views of our providers regarding this and other relevant topics throughout our “Back to School” campaign. If you have any questions, please contact us at 00971 4 436 1811 or email us at info@aopartnership.


With entry to the top educational institutions becoming more and more competitive and the costs continually rising, it’s important that you plan ahead so that your children get the best possible start in life.

Your children may want to return to the UK for their university education, in line with a great many British expatriates. This is not surprising. Apart from family and cultural links with home, UK universities enjoy a strong global reputation. In terms of popularity with international students, the UK is second only to the considerably larger US. An impressive 76 UK universities feature in the QS World University Rankings® 2018, with four currently ranked among the world’s top 10 and 16 UK universities appearing in the top 100 (source: QS world university rankings 2018).

The total cost of attending university can be over GBP 100,000, even in the UK.

You will want to consider all the implications and costs up front, as university education can be expensive in any of the leading countries such as the UK, the US and Australia. While there are the more obvious tuition and course fees, room and board, living and travel overheads to consider, there are other important factors to take into account, such as some courses requiring specific equipment. If your children want to live on campus, or if living in halls of residence is mandatory in the first year, accommodation costs can be high.

There is another important factor for you to consider if your children intend to study at university in the UK. Even if you and they have British passports, they are likely to be regarded as international students if you are still living abroad as an expatriate family. To be treated as a domestic rather than international student, they must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the full three-year period before the first day of the first academic year of their course.

This has three significant financial implications

1. As international students, they will pay up to three times more in annual fees than domestic students.

2. It is unlikely that they would qualify for access to government-sponsored financial student support such as tuition-fee loans.

3. As British passport holders, it is unlikely that they would be eligible for many of the scholarships and grants that are available to international students studying in the UK.


So, the costs of supporting your children will be significantly higher and your options for paying for these costs will be reduced. These issues will be magnified if you end up having two or more children at university at the same time.

If your children were able to qualify as domestic UK/EU students, then their tuition fees for an undergraduate degree would be up to GBP 9,250 per year (2018) for universities in England and up to GBP 9,000 per year for universities in Wales, and they may be able to apply for government financial support. Once you include the living and travelling costs associated with a student from an expatriate family, even putting your child through university in the UK as a domestic student is costly.

If your children were able to qualify as normally living in Scotland and they attend a Scottish university, they would ordinarily be eligible to have the tuition fees for their first degree paid in full by the Scottish Government. If they qualify as normally living in Northern Ireland and they attend a university in Northern Ireland, their tuition fees would be GBP 3,925 per year (2018). These tuition fee arrangements also apply to students normally living in an EU country, but not in the rest of the UK.

Students from Wales are fortunate as they are entitled to support, in the form of a grant, from the Welsh government. For further information, please refer to www.studentfinancewales.co.uk.

You may also want to consider that your children may choose to study at a university outside of Britain.

There is also a growing trend for children from expatriate families to choose a course at a university outside the UK, particularly in countries that could be considered to enjoy strong reputations for the quality of their education and lifestyle, such as the US, Australia or Canada. Tuition fees and living costs at top US universities are currently around USD 60,000 (GBP 44,400) per year*, with very few institutions offering financial aid or scholarships to international students. Tuition fees for international students studying at an Australian university are on a par with the fees charged in the US.

Wherever they choose to study, providing the quality education your children deserve could be more affordable than you think, as long as you plan your savings in advance.

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